My question is about PhD positions in computer science, in EU (non UK) countries. In many cases, websites of research groups/professors advertise PhD positions with something like: "We are constantly looking for talented PhD students to join our group. Feel free to contact me anytime. Include your CV, grades and references.".
My questions are: How early should I apply to such positions, relative to the expected starting date of my PhD studies? How polished should such an application be? Should I prepare all material like letters of recommendation before contacting for such a position?